Tributes paid to Jim Flanagan – former Sunday Life and Ballymena Guardian editor

Northern Ireland journalism was on Tuesday night mourning the loss of former Sunday Life and Ballymena Guardian editor Jim Flanagan.

By Mark Rainey
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 10:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 11:00 pm
Jim Flanagan, former editor of the Ballymena Guardian.
Jim Flanagan, former editor of the Ballymena Guardian.

The highly respected journalist began his long and distinguished career at the East Antrim Times before spending 30 years with the Belfast Telegraph group of newspapers.

He retired in December 2017 after eight years as editor of the Ballymena Guardian.

A funeral notice said Mr Flanagan died on April 19 aged 61.

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North Antrim MP Ian Paisley knew Mr Flanagan well during his time with the local paper.

He said: “It is with great regret that I learnt of the death of Jim Flannagan. Jim had the most difficult job of following Maurice O’Neill as editor of one of the country’s most significant weekly papers. He quickly integrated himself as a noted voice for the community through the pages of the paper.”

Mr Paisley added: “I got to know him extremely well. He was direct, had a great eye for a story and cared about the town and its people.

“To his wife and children I extend my sincere condolences. Their loss will be immense and they are in our prayers.“

Current Ballymena Guardian editor, Des Blackadder said: “Jim Flanagan was highly regarded by all who worked with him and his passing has been met with sincere sadness amongst his former colleagues.”

Former BBC journalist Mark Devenport was one of a number of media personalities who paid their own tributes to Mr Flanagan.

“Very sorry to hear this – always found Jim immensely helpful whenever I was reporting from Ballymena,” Mr Devenport tweeted.

RTE journalist Vincent Kearney said: “Very sorry to hear this. Big Jim was extremely helpful as I took my first steps in the world of journalism with the @BelTel and was always great company.”

Also on Twitter, former Press Association Ireland editor Deric Henderson said: “Desperately sad to learn of the death of Jim Flanagan. A former @BelTel colleague he was a fine journalist and great company.”

Newspaper columnist and sports pundit Liam Beckett replied to that message saying: “Awful sad news Deric, Jim was a man I always liked from the first day I met him.”

Chief Executive of Alpha Media, Jean Long, said that the passing of Mr Flanagan would be a cause for widespread sadness.

“Jim Flanagan was a fine journalist and an exceptional editor. He will be mourned by all who worked with him and knew him.”

The funeral notice described Mr Flanagan as the “loving husband of Colette, father of James and Suzanne, father-in-law of Iain, grandfather of Lana and Freddy, treasured son of Olive and the late Jim, and brother of Gary.”